November 9, 2020

Luke Robinson: Applying a business lens to impact

Luke RobinsonLuke Robinson is currently completing his Graduate Certificate in Social Impact at the Centre for Social Impact UNSW.

Luke Robinson’s childhood dream of becoming a pharmacist is a far cry from his current role in the banking sector, but the elements of pharmacy that he loved so much as a young person have always been central to his career since that time:

“I absolutely loved doing work experience in my local pharmacy as a teenager. It was the thing in my life that I loved at that time more than anything, other than my family.”

Luke soon found himself studying chemistry at university but realised not long into his degree that it wasn’t for him. Just like at school and during work experience, he was more interested in the practical nature of the work - not the theory.

“I realised it was more the practical elements of pharmacy that I loved – the critical thinking, the problem solving and engaging with people. I thrived on it,” says Luke.

“I ended up having a bit of time off when I left uni and got a job in the call centre of a bank as a temporary thing, but it was at that job I discovered the same feeling I had when I was in the pharmacy. I loved coming to work every day, interacting with my colleagues and customers, and working hard to help people.”

Fifteen years on, and after a number of roles within the Australian banking sector, Luke has progressed his career to now be Executive Advisor to the Deputy CEO of the Commonwealth Bank.

His role “fills the gaps” which harks back to Luke’s practical nature.

“I support the Deputy CEO to do his role which can incorporate a range of priorities. There's a lot of planning, organisation and engagement with people internally and externally. I’m also a central contact point for a number of projects I sit across,” says Luke.

“The broad range of roles and experiences I’d had have helped me strengthen skills that have become very valuable in my current role, particularly around emotional intelligence and my ability to handle pressure, change and ambiguity. I want to continue to grow and use those capabilities to have greater impact.”

Over the past five years Luke has realised his interest in contributing to his community through a business lens.

“If I think back, what I want to do hasn't ever changed. It's always been there but in different ways. I spent all this time thinking ‘I just don't know what I want to do with my life’ but I actually knew all along,” says Luke.

“I'm really fascinated in organisations that are both community and commercially focused which I think goes back to my love of pharmacies – they play a critical role in society but they are commercially minded as well.”

Along with volunteering as a mentor with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) and Feel the Magic, and observing The Benevolent Society board as part of the Observership Program, Luke has played a key role in starting a not-for-profit which supports Australians experiencing financial hardship.

“I am passionate about lots of things, particularly fairness and education, which is why I like the mentoring I do - it's about supporting a young person through what can be one of the most challenging times of their lives.”

Luke also sees his contribution in the banking sector as making a positive impact:

“I've realised the role that banks play in society, and that running a bank well and ethically can make such a positive impact on society,” says Luke.

“People are still getting their heads around the fact that business can contribute and it's still quite new in Australia. There's just so many ways we can contribute which I try to bring to my role.”

In early 2020 Luke commenced a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact with the Centre for Social Impact UNSW – a field of study he “didn’t realise existed”.

“The course has been very interesting. My first unit allowed me to contemplate my motivations even further and I appreciate the diversity of students and thinking,” says Luke.

“Whilst we have quite a lot of diversity in the bank, we probably have a fairly consistent way of thinking about things. I am enjoying the different perspectives in the course materials and from my fellow students.”

Luke will complete his studies at the end of 2020 and we wish him well as he continues his social impact journey, wherever that may take him.

Interested in studying with the Centre for Social Impact? Find out more.

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